As I walked into Annie Lapin’s studio I told her that her paintings had been stuck in my head ever since I had seen them at her show, Various Peep Shows at Honor Fraser a few weeks prior. Indeed, the paintings, which in my memory successfully managed to be both vibrant and subtle at the same time, had been lingering in the back of my mind, but I felt unable to fully articulate why. Finally I just decided that I wanted to meet Annie, see her studio and speak to her about her work.
As I followed Annie into her studio, she seemingly worried about its state of disarray and I anxious to see the paintings again after imagining them for weeks, I was struck by how, through the barrage of paint spattered furniture, walls, floors, brushes and paint tubes, Annie’s paintings stood out so distinctly. The color of the paintings is what I find myself initially attracted to. Somewhat unusual, the combination of colors and varied marks are given both space, and no space at the same time, because the background canvas is an unusual hue of yellow. A formal choice, it strikes me that Annie’s paintings are a series of explorations in the act of painting itself. But they are deeper than mere formal investigations. Annie has combed through art history, aware of what has come before her, and emerged with a style that feels wholly new.
The paintings do however, encompass many qualities that are highly compelling. Actually, “beautiful paintings that feel like they almost look like something, or many somethings,” was the way I described them to a friend who hadn’t seen the show. After a second spin through the gallery a few weeks before I had become conscious of the effects the paintings were having on my brain. At first and from afar they were maybe landscapes or maybe the mere hazy memory of an urban wall littered with remnants of billboards, or maybe they just reminded me of Japanese scroll paintings. At deeper and closer inspection though, they are unconvincing as landscapes, Japanese scroll paintings, or signs of urban decay. In fact, and Annie confirmed during my visit, they don’t actually indicate anything in the literal world. References to graffiti letters are more about the act of making the marks than anything grounded in the reality outside painting. Indeed, there is an attention to process and material where, as a viewer, I feel directed to really look. In doing so, I felt I had become privy to the emotion and practice a painter experiences.
After spending the hour with Annie I realized that the reason the paintings had stuck with me is because they had renewed my faith in painting as a relevant medium; an issue I wasn’t even aware that I had been questioning. Annie’s paintings possess a fresh perspective that keeps a viewer, as I did, wanting to keep looking and I am excited to follow her in the future.